Black Mental Health Graduate Academy
Join Our Black Mental Health Graduate Academy!
William James College's Black Mental Health Graduate Academy is an academic pipeline program, which is designed to recruit, mentor, and support Black students in master's and doctoral degree programs for mental health counseling, psychology, and leadership. Under the auspices of the Center for Multicultural and Global Mental Health (CMGMH), the Academy provides critical mentorship, career orientation, skill building, and professional enrichment to support your academic excellence in graduate school. The Academy represents the College's commitment to decreasing racial and ethnic disparities by diversifying the mental health workforce and providing support to historically marginalized and underserved groups.
“I'm really excited to be in a community with other Black scholars. Everyone has fascinating research interests, so I'm looking forward to talking about research in a way that pushes me to explore my identity further.”
Black Mental Health Graduate Academy
We Need a More Racially and Ethnically Diverse Mental Health Workforce
The United States is becoming more multiracial, multiethnic, and multilingual.
Although racial and ethnic minorities represent 30% of the population, approximately 90% of mental health professionals identify as non-Hispanic White (Annapolis Coalition). In 2013, only 5.3% of psychologists were Black/African American (American Psychological Association, 2015) and today fewer than 5% of Black students are enrolled in graduate-level psychology programs (APA Center for Workforce Studies). The lack of mental health professionals from racial and ethnic minority backgrounds is a critical contributing factor to mental health disparities (Annapolis Coalition). A more racially/ethnically diverse mental health workforce is needed to increase competent and compassionate care for all people.
In 2016, William James College’s Center for Multicultural and Global Mental Health inaugurated the Black Mental Health Graduate Academy. The Academy—a leadership and mentoring program—is designed to recruit and mentor Academy Scholars—talented Black individuals committed to pursuing graduate degrees in mental health counseling, psychology, and leadership. The Academy represents William James College’s commitment to decreasing racial and ethnic disparities by diversifying the mental health workforce.
The Academy’s Leadership and Mentoring Program provides you with critical cultural and academic support. In addition, the Academy’s Professional Development Program provides career orientation, skill building, and professional enrichment to support Scholars’ academic and career excellence. The Academy is committed to developing you as a future leader by:
- Reinforcing Scholars’ appreciation for multiculturalism and developing relationships with individuals from diverse cultural backgrounds.
- Enhancing Scholars’ abilities to competently navigate racial, cultural, and sociopolitical challenges.
- Encouraging Scholars’ intellectual growth by supporting their critical-thinking skills.
- Strengthening Scholars’ abilities to articulate career choices based on assessment of interests, values, skills, and abilities.
- Fostering Scholars’ civic engagement in local, national, and global communities as well as their willingness to challenge unfair and unjust behaviors.
As of February 2023, the Academy has had a total of 64 Scholars from WJC’s masters and doctoral level degree programs. Accounting for graduations, the Academy has grown from the pioneering group of 17 Scholars in 2016 to the current cohort of 33. 60% of our Scholars are of Caribbean (e.g., Haiti) and African (e.g., Nigeria) first-generation immigrant families.
As a student in the Black Mental Health Graduate Academy, you will always have access to this network of faculty, students, and alumni. There are student and alumni gatherings throughout the year.
- As of February 2023 and since its inception in 2016, the Academy has enrolled a total of 64 Scholars from WJC’s masters and doctoral programs, including the current 33-person cohort.
- 45 prestigious merit scholarships and stipends have been awarded to Scholars. Meet our awardees and learn about these scholarships, including CMGMH Serving the Mental Health Needs of the Underserved, STAR Fellowship Program, LDR Fellowship Program, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Initiative (CAMHI), and HRSA Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training (BHWET).
- 28 Scholars have increased awareness of mental health in the black community as guest speakers, presenters, and panelists on radio and television shows and podcasts, at conferences, and in high-school and college classrooms. These include guest spots on WGBH-TV Show "Basic Black" and the Black Mental Health Matters Podcast hosted by Dr. Kerry-Ann Williams.
- Our Scholars’ Psychology Today Blog have been viewed >34,000 times. These blogs highlight our students' impressive skills
in effectively and broadly communicating complex issues associated with race/ethnicity
and disparities in mental health. A sampling of the blog posts are below:
- Stereotyped and Devalued: The Story of Black Children by Simone Matthews
- Black America: Psychological Costs of Economic Inequities by Carmaudely L. Galliotte, M.S., BCBA, LABA
- Transracial Adoptions During the Black Lives Matter Movement by Damon A. Pryor, LMHC, PsyD
- Black Americans' Psychological Pain and Resilience by Deon Mowatt, MA
- $7,500 Award from American Psychological Association’s Commission on Ethnic Minority Recruitment, Retention and Training in Psychology.
To learn more about the Black Mental Health Graduate Academy, please contact:
Natalie Cort, PhD
Associate Professor, Clinical Psychology Department
Co-Director, Center for Multicultural and Global Mental Health
Director, Black Mental Health Graduate Academy
Around campus, in the community, in the news—William James College community members are leading the conversation.
We encourage you to take some time to read, watch, or listen to the many ways our faculty and Scholars are taking on leadership roles in educating others on racial and ethnic mental health disparities.
Black Lives Matter
In June 2020, the Black Mental Health Graduate Academy shared its first statement about anti-Black racism and police brutality. As we begin 2023’s Black History Month, the words of the previous statement has sad resonance as we embark yet again on a discussion about America’s enduring deadly and casually cruel assaults on Black minds, hearts, and bodies. Please read our joint statement from the Black Mental Health Graduate Academy and the African and Caribbean Mental Health concentration.The Heartbreaking and enduring trauma of anti-black racism and police brutality
Black Mental Health Matters Podcast with Kerry-Ann Williams, MD
The podcast has featured our WJC Black Mental Health Graduate Academy scholars. Watch and listen here.
Representation in Psychology
featuring Tia Rivera and LaNisha Allen
featuring Jasmine Akinsulire
Trauma and Immigration
featuring Edsel Cadet
Parenting and the School System
featuring Gabrielle Palmer, CAGS, NCSP
Mental Health Stigma in Communities of Color
Featuring Scholars Pilar Tucker, Melanie Robinson Findlay, Simone Matthews, Sohenga Depestre.Our Scholars participated in a panel discussion for the Department of Mental Health moderated by Daniela Trammell Harrigan, DMH Director of Community Engagement.
Question and Answer: “Black Health and Wellness”
Dr. Natalie Cort on Black Mental Health and the 2022 Theme for Black History Month.Read More
Exploring Stigma, Stressors and Resilience Experienced by Men of Color
The Black Mental Health Graduate Academy, in partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health (DMH), hosted a panel discussion exploring mental health stressors and stigma, along with the underappreciated resilience and strengths, experienced by men of color.Read More
Building a Center of Gravity in Multicultural Education
Dr. Natalie Cort presented If You Build It, They Will Come: Building a Center of Gravity in Multicultural Education Through Transformative and Inclusive Practices, at the University of Rochester Psychiatry Department Grand Rounds.Read More
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